MB Connection

Building a List of References

You have made it this far in the interview process with the organization of your dreams and now, the Search Firm is asking you to provide a list of references. 

At this point, you have shown the Search Committee and valued members of the staff that your work experience is relevant, and you have the skills to do the job. So, why are references so important to your candidacy?  

References are used to help the organization make their final decision. It is extremely valuable for the organization to hear what others think of you in a professional setting. Your references validate what the Search Committee has learned about you through your interviews and meetings. Here are a few tips to consider while compiling your list of references.

  1. Who to consider on your list

    Your references should be individuals you have recently worked with. Ideally, you are currently working with them or you have worked with them in the last five years. Make sure your references can speak to the experience, traits and characteristics the organization is looking for. Don’t list individuals with the big names and titles if they can’t speak about your professional experience. It’s more important to select those who know you best.
  2. How many references to provide and what should you share with them

    You should have five to six references on your list. Your references are your biggest advocates. Before submitting your references to the Search Firm, communicate with them. Share with them why you are interested in this position and why you believe you are the best fit. They need to be able to talk about your passion, skills and attributes for this opportunity. Share the position description with them and answer any questions they might have.
  3. What type of references to list

    Providing a well-rounded list of individuals is very important. Share a list that includes a supervisor, a direct report, a peer, a board member, a volunteer, and a mentor. These references should have spent significant time with you in a professional environment and should be able to attest to your leadership, management, communication, and collaboration skills. Listing your current boss or someone at your current organization would be ideal however, you can wait to include them until you know you are either the candidate of choice or have been given an offer letter. 
  4. How to properly list your references

    Include the name, current title, current organization, email and phone number of each reference. You should also include a couple of sentences highlighting how you know this person, the title your reference had when you worked together, your working relationship and how long you worked together. 
  5. Thank them

    You are asking them to speak on your behalf and to be your advocate. Be sure you take the time to let them know that you appreciate them.